Jose James - While You Were Sleeping (2014)

Jose James - While You Were Sleeping (2014)
Artist: Jose James
Title: While You Were Sleeping
Year Of Release: 2014
Label: Blue Note
Genre: R&B, Neo-Soul, Jazz Funk
Quality: FLAC (tracks): 24bit / 44.1kHz
Total Time: 00:50:45
Total Size: 570 MB


01. Angel (4:12)
02. U R The 1 (4:13)
03. While You Were Sleeping (6:18)
04. Anywhere U G (5:50)
05. Bodhisattva (4:02)
06. 4 Noble Truths (5:13)
07. Dragon (feat. Becca Stevens) (4:22)
08. Salaam (0:57)
09. Without U (3:14)
10. EveryLittleThing (3:30)
11. xx (4:02)
12. Simply Beautiful (feat. Takuya Kuroda) (4:54)

José James - Vocals
Kris Bowers - Fender Rhodes, Organ, Synthesizer
Monica Davis - Violin
Solomon Dorsey - Bass, Synthesizer Bass, Vocals
Nate Gowtham - Vocals
Corey King - Trombone
Takuya Kuroda - Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Richard Spaven - Drums, Sequencing
Becca Stevens - Vocals, Wurlitzer
Amber Docters Van Leuwens - Cello
Brad Allen Williams - Guitar

Singer-songwriter José James has always been on the quest for new musical horizons; constantly evolving and blurring the lines between genres in the process. Now on the heels of his critically acclaimed Blue Note Records debut No Beginning No End, José returns with his dynamic and daring fifth album While You Were Sleeping. While keeping his trademark soulful baritone at the forefront, Jose adeptly weaves elements of indie rock, folk, funk, blues, hip hop and R&B into an experience journeying from desire to introspection and spiritual epiphany.
José set out to create an album that captured the spirit of his newfound creative space. The album's title track "While You Were Sleeping" ebbs and flows beautifully, ruminating on the end of a love affair. The song culminates in crashing waves of self-reflection and affirmation. If anything can be said about José James, aside from marveling at his impressive talent and incomparable voice, it's that he is indeed a fearless artist. While You Were Sleeping is another momentous milestone along his creative path.
José James is one of the most fascinating singers to appear in popular music over the last decade. On five previous recordings he's tackled jazz standards, hip-hop, neo-soul, funk, and even Moroccan gnawa. He claims that While You Were Sleeping is a synthesis of everything he loves about music citing Nirvana, Frank Ocean, Radiohead, and Junip in his list. He shifts directions yet again here, this time bringing his take on rock and pop into his musical arsenal. New guitarist Brad Allen Williams adds immeasurably to this ambition, joining a veteran band that includes keyboardist Kris Bowers, bassist/vocalist Solomon Dorsey, and drummer Richard Spaven. "Angel" is just one tune where Williams openly references the Jimi Hendrix of Band of Gypsys and Cry of Love. On "Angel," the band weaves fluid, silvery, wah-wah guitar distortion, jazzy Rhodes piano, dropped funky bass, and rolling, shuffling snares and breaks under his dark, sensual baritone. The title track (which briefly quotes from Neil Young's "Heart of Gold") weds folky psych pop to cosmic soul with a killer lead guitar break. The quiet drama in James' voice exudes elegance and earthiness. "Anywhere U Go" employs an aggressive bassline, shimmering Rhodes, and skittering, propulsive breaks against a guitar vamp that makes use of Nirvana's clipped melodic aesthetic. The spiritually resonant "4 Noble Truths" is introduced by strummed acoustic guitar in a minor key and a cracking snare. They are fleshed out provocatively by an expressionistic string quartet and a spiraling B-3. Becca Stevens makes one of her duet appearances on her haunting original "Dragon." Its Eastern-tinged slow groove is adorned by spacious guitar effects and ellical keyboards atop a hushed rhythm section. Soul informs everything here. Check the stretched Madlib meets Flying Lotus beats in the sexy, tender "U R the 1." The minor-key melody in "XX" is one of James' better belly-to-belly love jams. His steamy croon is elevated by his lyrics, which are as poetically cognizant as they are carnally aware. The contrasting elements of pointillist rock guitars and warm indie electronica bump against the interlocking rhythm section. Al Green's "Simply Beautiful," features guest trumpeter and labelmate Takuya Kuroda delivering a fine solo. It's no ordinary cover. James recombines jazz, soul, and blues in a compelling arrangement that frames his trademark phrasing with tender yet sultry delivery. It underscores how provocative While You Were Sleeping is. With James' voice and nearly iconic harmonic sensibility as a guide, these genres flow into, rub against, and ultimately redefine one another. His creative reach, at least at this juncture appears to be boundless . --AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

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